Duffy Unleashes # !% Campaign for Projo.com

Agency Breaks Mixed-Media Effort With Bleeped-Out Profanity
BOSTON–Duffy & Shanley’s latest promotional effort for Projo.com, the online version of The Providence Journal, is generating some controversy for its use of implied profanity and decidedly “in your face” attitude.
“To get this audience’s attention, we had to do that,” said Jonathan Duffy, vice president of marketing at the Providence, R.I., agency. The ads target 18-34-year-olds.
One radio spot features a college career counselor losing her cool when one student is able to find a job on his own through Projo.com’s help-wanted section. In another, a movie-line service blames a lack of calls on the site’s entertainment listings. Both ads feature strategically bleeped-out “profanity.”
A Web banner version of the movie-line spot, crafted by Duffy with Newport, R.I., interactive media company BlueStreak.com, lets consumers hear the entire spot online.
Standard text-based Web banners incorporate similar themes, including one that shows an overworked mover “cursing” at the site (“# !% Projo.com”) for its proliferation of apartment listings.
In the first few weeks of the campaign, the client has received “limited negative feedback, about five people called” to protest the ads’ tone and content, said John Granatino, director of electronic publishing services for the Providence Journal Co.
However, site visits are up 10-15 percent since the ads broke, Granatino said. The six-figure effort will run for the next four or five weeks.
Duffy also handles the newspaper’s account, crafting ads tagged “Have you seen it?” that target readers 35 and older by touting the paper’s news coverage.
However, the client sees Projo.com not as a portal to the paper, but as a destination in itself, and for that reason chose to take a completely different tack in advertising the service to young Internet-savvy consumers, Granatino said.
The current campaign is the most extensive branding push for the client in its two-year relationship with the agency, Duffy said.